The Dynasty Warriors series has been going on for a long time, and it's been surviving largely unchanged. However, the ninth iteration of the series makes the biggest change to the series in years, but is that the shot in the arm the franchise needs? Maybe, but probably not. Fans of Dynasty Warriors have, generally speaking, never stopped being fans of Dynasty Warriors and those fans will find all of the hack and slash action they love with a few new features to keep things interesting. however, anybody who is looking for something entirely fresh from the franchise won't really find it here.
Normally I would open a review with a description of a game's story and characters, however, with Dynasty Warriors 9, that's a pretty tall order. The story is about the battles between various factions over the land of China, but the story is told through dozens of different characters and a massive number of main and side quests. Part of Dynasty Warriors 9's ambition is to be a massive game, and as far as that part of it goes, it does succeed.
The other place where the scope of the game is on display is the map. The major innovation of Dynasty _Warriors 9_ is the transition to an open world. The entirely of China is available to you and the map feels that big. The problem, is that while an open world may be an innovation for Dynasty Warriors, Dynasty Warriors 9 fails to innovate the concept of the open world. It's a massive sprawling map that gets filled in with a near-infinite number of icons as you climb towers to survey the land. Then you go to those icons to activate quests, then you chase down new icons to find a battle with enemies to kill or items to collect in order to craft a new item.
It's all the same stuff you've likely played before in a dozen other open world games, only this time with a Dynasty Warriors skin rather than it being a shooter or an Assassin's Creed game. On the one hand, that could appeal to a lot of people. There's nothing inherently wrong with this sort of open-world structure simply because it's been done before. If it didn't have some sort of appeal it would have been canned by developers already. However, it feels like the decision to add all this additional material might actually have a negative impact on the game. Those who aren't already a fan of the massive hack and slash battles of Dynasty Warriors aren't going to find enough new and different to keep them interested. At the same time, those who love everything that the Warriors franchise has done will find a layer of other stuff standing between them and the massive battles they came here to have. Is traversing a large a map or fast traveling through load screens the things that the Dynasty Warriors crowd has really wanted out of their game? Somehow I doubt it.
Technically, the game also has issues. Even after playing with the requisite Day One patch, I ran into numerous glitches where enemy characters popped up out of nowhere in front of me, or stopped responding to me entirely. Even points where buttons simply stopped working. Parts of the map are quite lovely while other parts are just wide stretches of uninteresting ground. You can explore all of it, but I'm not sure why you would.
It's nice that Dynasty Warriors tried to do something to change things up, but they seem to have simply picked the most common and popular current game type and implemented it over the game without much thought as to whether or not it was a good fit. It's not. If you've been waiting for a new Dynasty Warriors game, you've got one, and this will scratch the itch, but that's about all.
This review was done with an Xbox One version of the game provided by the publisher